Rubylita Garcia

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Two gunmen fired multiple shots at Rubylita Garcia, 52, after entering her home in Bacoor City in the province of Cavite, according to news reports. The suspects fled the scene on a motorcycle. The journalist’s family members rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she died, the reports said.

Garcia was a reporter for the tabloid newspaper Remate and host of a local blocktime radio talk show at dwAD radio station. She was a member of the National Press Club and had served as president of the Confederation of Active Media Practitioners Organization, a group of local journalists in the region, reports said. Radio hosts who lease airtime on local stations, called block-timers, are frequently targeted in provincial areas of the Philippines, according to CPJ data.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told CPJ in an interview on September 4 that the Department of Justice considered Garcia’s murder to be work-related and had deployed a special investigation team comprised of multiple agencies to pursue the case. De Lima said in the same interview that a senior police officer was the main suspect in the killing.

Garcia had a reputation among the local press for being a hard-hitting journalist who exposed wrongdoing in the Cavite police force, reports said.

News reports said that while Garcia was still conscious, she told her son Tristan that Tanza town police Superintendant Conrado Villaneuva was behind the attack. Remate‘s publisher, Benny Antiporda, told local journalists that she and the police official had had a heated verbal altercation a few days before her death at a local police station. Villaneuva denied the murder allegation, according to local reports.

Villaneuva was suspended immediately following Garcia’s murder in an effort to ensure he did not influence the investigation, according to news reports.

In the days following the attack, police arrested an individual suspected of being a gunman but a family member who witnessed the crime said he was not one of the attackers, according to reports. Garcia’s son, Tristan, told CPJ he entered the Department of Justice’s witness protection program after being threatened with death by two unknown assailants.